Reasons for the U.S. Turning to Imperialism at the End of the 19th Century

1268 words 6 pages
Essay Question: Why did the U.S. turn to Imperialism at the end of the 19th century?

Imperialism is "the creation and maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationship, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination.” (Johnston 375) By the 1890s, many Americans leaders started to have new attitude towards imperialistic adventures abroad. There were numerous reasons for the U.S. to turn to Imperialism at the end of the 19th century, mainly the economic, political, strategic, and humanitarian motives. Various industrialists as well as investors including bankers and the new wealthy class feared that the United States would soon produce more than it
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Hearst) printed a stolen letter written by the Spanish ambassador Dupuy de Lôme, in which he refered to President McKinley as “a would-be politician who [tried] to leave a door open behind himself while keeping on good term with the jingoes of his party” (Boorstin 512) as well as stories about the brutal torture and execution of innocent Cuban citizens and some U.S citizens. As a result, jingoism developed and evoked an intense American nationalism with a desire for adventure abroad. The sinking of USS Maine on February 15, 1898 was caused by an explosion on board, but the Yellow Press fiercely called for a war against Spain and headlined “Remember the Maine!” (Boorstin 512). On February 25, without the approval of his boss, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt cabled Commodore George Dewey to be ready for immediate combat against the Spanish fleet in the Philippines. The enormous pressure on President McKinley from American expansionists and American humanitarian motives made him no longer able to resist the calls for intervention in Cuba; finally, he asked Congress to declare war even though the Spanish had agreed to almost his entire ultimatum – a list of demands to avoid war. In addition, in April 18, 1898, the Teller Amendment assured supporter of Cuban independence that America would not annex Cuba in under any circumstances. The Spanish American War, regarded by John Hay as a “splendid little war”, ended with Treaty of Paris,


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